There is a kind of running joke, among some, that after a black majority government came to power in the Bahamas, the miniseries Roots which first aired in January 1977, would be shown on ZNS (the national television and radio station) around every election time. The impetus behind such thinking was that Roots stirred the emotions associated with bygone era of slavery, and racial inequality, in the islands. Emotions, as many suppose, determine the outcome of elections. That was 1977, now imagine twenty years prior, in 1957.
Few today remember there was a time when movies which stirred the racial emotional passions were banned from the Bahamas. In fact, if Roots had been produced just twenty years earlier, it may have been banned as well, the same way the movie, Islands In The Sun was banned in 1957.
The story of the movie “Islands In the Sun” could have been torn, word for word, event after event, from the pages of the goings on in Nassau.
The film was about race relations and interracial romance set in the fictitious island of Santa Marta. The movie was filmed in Barbados and Grenada. It was based on the novel of the same name written by Alec Waugh in 1955. The film was controversial at the time of its release in 1957, for its portrayal of an interracial romance, race relations on a small island nation and the fight for political power, which again, came down along racial lines.
No wonder the movie was banned.
“On a Caribbean island, a rich landowner’s son, Maxwell Fleury (James Mason), is fighting for political office against black labor leader David Boyeur (Harry Belafonte). As if the contentious election weren’t enough, there are plenty of scandals to go around: Boyeur has a secret white lover (Joan Fontaine) and Fleury’s wife, Sylvia (Patricia Owens), is also having an affair. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of a recently murdered aristocrat (Michael Rennie).”